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The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



Opinion No. 5811

November 5, 1980


Reimbursement for services of peace officer


Reimbursement of county for services of peace officer

A county is not eligible for state reimbursement for the cost of services of peace officers in transporting patients to and from state mental institutions.

Mr. Harry J. Knudsen

County Corporation Counsel

Muskegon County

P. O. Box 687

Muskegon, Michigan 49443

You have asked for my opinion regarding eligibility for state reimbursement to Muskegon County of the necessary costs of transporting mental patients to and from State institutions.

The Michigan Mental Health Code, 1974 PA 258, Ch 4, Sec. 401 et seq; MCLA 330.1401 et seq; MSA 14.800(401) et seq, provides in several instances that local peace officers must transport mentally ill persons to State institutions for the mentally ill upon order of a probate court. (1) In Chapter 5 of the Mental Health Code, 1974 PA 258, supra, Sec. 501 et seq; MCLA 330.1501 et seq; MSA 14.800(501) et seq, contains some similar provisions for the transportation for the developmentally disabled to State institutions. (2) In addition, although not specifically mentioned in your letter, the Mental Health Code calls for the presence of patients at various types of probate court hearings. (3) The Mental Health Code does not specifically assign to any particular public agency the task of transporting the patients to and from these hearings, but it is possible that in some instances the burden of providing transportation may fall on the county.

The Mental Health Code, 1974 PA 258, Ch 3, supra; Sec. 301 et seq, MCLA 330.1301 et seq; MSA 14.800(301) et seq, sets forth the mechanisms for allocating the costs of the public mental health system between the State and the various counties. In particular, 1974 PA 253, Ch 3, Sec. 308, supra, provides that, subject to the appropriation of sufficient funds, the State shall pay 90 percent of the annual net cost of the county's community mental health program. 'Net cost' is defined in 1974 PA 258, Ch 3, Sec. 310, supra, as '. . . the total of all county program expenditures eligible for state financial support and approved by the Department and which are not otherwise paid for by federal funds, state funds, or reimbursements from persons and insurers who are financially liable for the cost of services.'

In 1974 PA 258, Ch 2, Sec. 240; MCLA 330.1240; MSA 14.800(240), the legislature has provided that those county program expenditures which are eligible for State financial support are generally defined as all expenditures of county mental health boards 'necessary to execute such county program. . . .'

In order to determine whether the transportation expenses defined above are 'necessary to execute such county program' one must look at the legislative delineation of the scope of a community mental health program as set forth in the Mental Health Code, 1974 PA 258, Ch 2, Sec. 200, et seq; MCLA 330.1200 et seq; MSA 14.800(200) et seq. 1974 PA 258, Ch 2, Sec. 206, supra, provides that the purpose of a county community mental health program shall be to provide 'mental health services' for persons located in the county or counties served by the program. 'Mental health service' operated within a county program is defined in 1974 PA 258, Ch 2, Sec. 208, supra, as follows:

'. . . A service (4) is any of the following:

'(a) Prevention, consultation, collaboration, educational, or information service.

'(b) Diagnostic service.

'(c) Emergency service.

'(d) Inpatient service.

'(e) Outpatient service.

'(f) Partial hospitalization service.

'(g) Residential, sheltered, or protective care service.

'(h) Habilitation or rehabilitation service.

'(i) Any other service approved by the department.'

Transportation is not one of the services delineated in the above definition. Nor is transportation a necessary element of providing any of the services in the above definition. While such services as inpatient service and emergency service are included within the definition, these are inpatient and emergency services provided by the county. The transportation which you have described in your letter is related to inpatient services provided by the State at its institutions.

1974 PA 258, Ch 3, Sec. 302, supra, cited in your letter, is inapposite for the reason that it deals with the county's liability for services provided by the State. Furthermore, although you correctly note that the State, in some instances, pays for ambulance services to community hospitals for medical treatment of indigents, those payments are made pursuant to the medicaid program and are limited to instances where the person transported is eligible for medicaid and the purpose of the transportation is to obtain treatment for a physical condition. 42 CFR 440.2(b), 440.170(a); State of Michigan Medical Assistance Program Ambulance Manual, Chapter 3, page 1 (March 1, 1972).

It is, therefore, my opinion that a county is not eligible for state reimbursement for transportation costs incurred in transporting patients to and from State mental institutions.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

(1) 1974 PA 258, Ch 4, Secs. 426, 427, 428, 436, 438 and 469(4), supra.

(2) 1974 PA 258, Ch 5, Secs. 516(4) and 519(4)(b), supra.

(3) See generally 1974 PA 258, Ch 4, Sec. 455, and Ch 5, Secs. 516(8)(c) and 517(3)(a), supra.

(4) 'Service' means a mental health service. 1974 PA 258, Ch 2, Sec. 200, supra.


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